tv Lectures in History Sea Power During World War I CSPAN November 6, 2018 9:48pm-10:43pm EST
significant in some way. >> the university of north carolina law professor talks about two of his books, the forgotten presidents, and impeachment. >> i think that bill clinton did a lot to merit his own impeachment. i think that he knew members of congress was looking for him to make mistakes, and when he made those mistakes, and later testified under oath in a way that was false, for which he was later held in contempt by a judge for perjury, clint made his impeachment almost inevitable. >> sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on our question-and- answer. >> the u.s. air force academy professor chuck steele on the role of seapower in world war i and talks about the state of the british grand fleet and activity of german submarines prior to the u.s. entering the war. he argues the actions of u.s.
admiral william sims helped to keep the allied forces united. this is just over 50 minutes. >> take your seats. okay. we close out or what one, and taking a gusts talking about the american contributions, and we was talking about william sims. he was one of the more neglected figures in military history as per the article that i sent you, he kind of comes off a distant second to purging if that, and when we think about americans, and in the first world war. today, this is a class, and we will talk about the significance of cm's, and -- sims, and possibly get into an argument who made the more
relevant contribution. that is cm's -- sims, and this actually shows a first group of american destroyers at we had entered the war arriving in ireland to begin operations against the german submarine. to place. of course, unlike the other figures that we've discussed, sims isn't going to actually operate operational control. he's going to hand that off to admiral bailey of the royal navy, which is, again, something that's at odds with the way that the army would be operating for the most part in the war. but he had a good deal of confidence in the british and their abilities to serve as effective commanders. so anyway, let's move on and talk about what we're going to go through. we're going to talk a little bit why the contributions of the naval forces are central to
the allied victory in the war and we'll do a bit of review talking, once again, about what do the oceans mean to the various combatants. and then what are the limitations of british sea power because it seems rather impressive, all the things that the british were able to do. and then we'll talk about sims and what his contributions are specifically and then if we have some time, we'll talk about the significance of the american experience in world war i and what this means going forward as we set up the next few lessons. all right. so, just as a matter of review, unlike the war on land, not so many engagements, right? most of the readings that you had dealt with jutland because it's the biggest and most significant of the engagements but you had the grand fleet involved and smaller vessels from both fleets in engagement in august of '14. cornell in the pacific in which
a group of german cruisers maul some older british ships. it cost about 1500 plus casualties for the british, a disaster for the british. but then that same fleet, the asiatic squadron makes its way into the south atlantic and they come in to contact with the british force of battle cruises or built around heavy cruisers and the germans get mauled and lose close to 2,000 people. so after that, dogger bank in january of 1915 and then jutland in 1916. that's pretty much it. if we look at jutland, what do we think of jutland? is it -- the germans like to hail it as a tactical success. you're laughing, mr. ryan. >> yes. >> why are you laughing? >> tactical success doesn't
matter in the bigger picture so much as the strategic outcome. >> if you're the germans, what makes you think that you succeeded in this fight? >> you didn't get destroyed by the royal navy? >> you weren't completely destroyed? >> you actually scored some victories on a few british ships. >> the death toll stands in favor of the germans. the destruction and damage to ships stands in favor of the germans, but did they achieve the operational results that they were searching for? where do they end up at the end of the battle? >> the same place they started? >> so has the strategic situation changed? >> not at all. no. >> all right. and that kind of brings us to, in terms of review, if we think about the dimensions and
traditionally, throughout this course at this point, where does war at sea occur? >> on the surface. >> are there alternatives to that if you can't fight effectively on the surface at this point? >> in world war i they haven't really moved in to air assets as much because we haven't started developing carriers or anything like that, but germany obviously uses heavy emphasis on u-boats. especially when they are trying to choke out the british commerce, and so that's really their alternative to having to go out and engage the grand fleet. >> yeah. what's the purpose of the grand fleet? what are they trying to achieve? what kind of operations are they engaged in? >> basically, trying to limit what the germans are capable of. it's a reactionary, more defensive mindset. and also to protect shipping. >> all right.
but essentially the british are doing what with the grand fleet? >> it's a deterrent. >> containing the german fleet to the north sea. >> a term specifically designed for this, blockade. so if you're the germans, yeah, you're vulnerable to the british because they have a bigger fleet, a much bigger fleet. is britain vulnerable? as per the questions that we went over before, does the ocean offer any possibilities to the germans as far as dealing with the british, or do they have to play the same game that the british are playing? >> it's their best option to get britain out of war. >> why is that? what is the ocean to britain? >> it brings an island. that is their livelihood. all of their commerce goes from the colonies to the ocean. that's what they've invested most of their military spending in is their sea power. so if you're the germans, you essentially take britain out of the war with a decisive battle,
if that ever happened. >> i think the other aspect, adding on to that, is the sea is really britain's lifeline. we know it has been for a long time because they don't sustain themselves just based on the resources of the island themselves. so if you constrict their shipping through u-boat warfare, you're going to hurt them pretty badly. >> it's a source of strength. you have the grand fleet and definitely superior to the high seas fleet. and you can impose an effective blockade but your command of the seas is, in a sense, limited to the surface and really into the area of the north sea, because we talked about this before, i mean, you have to go with the distant blockade. there's too many risks, threats close into shore. so you don't control the
baltic. there are some limitations on british sea power. but the other thing is that there's now another dimension to be considered, and that is submarines. it's operating beneath the surface. and so we talk about it being the consequences of british dominance. you have the germans who are recognizing early on this is indeed a problem, that they are the second most powerful navy in the world, or have the second most powerful navy in the world and that's by some distance. but you do have submarines and it's a stealthy weapon. especially at this point. there aren't so many countermeasures out there. the germans are going to launch three large submarine campaigns, as per the reading i sent out to you. i believe i sent them out to you. but there's some consequences
that are associated with this as well. i mean, the germans meet with some success in setting up their own blockade. i mean, it's not the same sort of blockade but you're trying to accomplish the same objectives. cut the british off from commerce on the seas. but there are consequences. what's the big deal about the lusitania and the arabic? >> mainly that it was a passenger liner, and it killed 120 americans. the americans were really angry about it and tried to cut diplomatic ties with the germans. but primarily, it was a straight attack on what the world viewed as civilians rather than on military targets. >> you follow through this, i mean, why are the germans doing this? it seems so evil. why does this become an issue? >> it's similar to the war of the weaker. you have to go asymmetric if you're the underdog when it comes to warfare.
>> but what do we find particularly distasteful or displeasing about this? you're killing civilians. you're killing american civilians. >> submarine warfare flies in the face of naval tradition which put a high emphasis on being brave and aggressive and meeting the enemy in open battle and here you have a boat full of guys who can sink ships full of civilians, military members, whatever, without facing that danger in the same way. it's not really that same sense of honor, i guess. >> perhaps, and part of the issue with this is, as per what i sent you folks, you know, there were expectations, right? i mean, what was supposed to happen? >> the u-boats were supposed to surface, confirm the target, with one of the officers on the u-boat looking at the manifest, and they would decide where they were going to send it afterward.
but the british ended up just arming their merchant men with small guns to shoot at the u- boats when they surfaced. >> kind of risky, right? if you're going to use these things, as we come to see, i think probably everybody is a bit more familiar with what happens in world war ii, but certainly a pattern is set. if you're going to try and do damage, you need to minimize the risks to your own people, right? so this causes some problems. because, again, you issue warnings but it's still going to be -- for the united states, what does this look like to us? >> it just looks like germans are gunning down civilians. >> we also value the neutrality of the seas so that's a direct threat on being able to be neutral, belligerent in this war. >> britain is definitely restricting our freedom of the seas but this is restriction
and doing material harm. and so what was the result of this submarine campaign in '15? the germans continue? are there pauses between these campaigns? >> they are afraid of larger action at sea by the allies. >> you have the potential to bring the united states in this war. the united states protests, right? and so this is something that the consequences -- as this thing is becoming a war of attrition, you've lost your chance for annihilation, is it becoming a war of attrition? the last thing you think you'd want to do is involve a nation with the industrial capacity of the united states, although nothing like what it would be in world war ii but you still don't need any more enemies. submarine campaign of 1916, scheer is going to get frustrated because if they start this the united states is going to get upset again and so
he's supposed to play by the rules, as per discussion, and so this isn't really going to go anywhere either. all right. so what are the consequences for -- and why the germans, if you can remember back to history 100, why are the germans going to change their minds in 1917? what's the big deal? what's going on by the time you get to 1917? >> there's starvation in germany. it's breaking the supply lines that need to be reopened to some degree, they need to regain access to this sea. >> if you're the germans, you're probably suffering more than anybody else, right? you're fighting a two-front war. britain, when we start this war, without a doubt the greatest expression of british power is the grand fleet. but over time, i mean, you've got the population of the british empire to draw from. again, being in a war of attrition, you know, that's not
really a good thing. on top of which -- you know, france is still burying the biggest brunt -- or bearing the brunt of all of this on the western front. france is a formidable power. and so these things, in combination, if you're the germans, it's a very tough situation. and you are running out of resources. and so this has become a war of attrition. and, you know, the charts, if you look at resources and manpower, they don't favor you in a war of attrition. in the standard 100 class, the standard history military history class, the core class, they talk about the big changes that the germans are making at the end of 1917, right? move to an emphasis on destruction of the russians. kind of a combination of military action and political action, getting lenin back in to russia so he would agitate for revolution.
but going along the defense on the western front, the elastic defense. they also, in a sense, go on the offensive again. okay? they go back to waging unrestricted submarine warfare. so what's the calculus here? what do you have to consider? what are the consequences of a third submarine campaign? >> at this point in time, they are getting desperate. so, the benefits of this are possibly driving someone out of the war, whether that be the united states or britain. >> we're not in yet, right? >> uh-huh. but possibly keeping the united states out but more likely forcing britain out of the war at this point. but, then the opposite side of that is they could encourage the united states to come in to the war.
>> well, isn't that -- >> if you could sink enough british goods coming across the channel in to europe with your u-boats or moving around europe, you could cause economic problems for them. and then that pulls britain out of the war and would open up the seas to your fleet. >> but don't you kind of know that if you go this route, you're going to pull the united states in? i mean, the warnings have been made. the united states is standing pretty strong on this. the oceans are important to us. right? so, you know, any return to unrestricted submarine warfare is going to have consequences. the germans pretty much know, it's going to pull us in. but are you that afraid of the americans? if you're running out of resources, what kind of timetable do you give yourself? >> is german intel fully aware of how long it will take us to mobilize?
it took us a while and i think the germans are aware of that. >> mobilization goes -- it happens quickly. i think what they are aware of, more than anything else, is how small the united states army is. if you look before world war i, what's the last major military expedition mounted by the united states army? yeah. and how did that go? >> terribly. >> you can't track down and bring a villain to justice and you're going to go over and fight in the biggest war against -- you know, the biggest war that anybody has seen, against soldiers who were battle-hardened. this isn't poncho villa that you're talking about. this is hindenberg and ludendorff. >> i would say for the germans, i would say it's definitely a risk worth taking because if you can get britain out of the war, you remove the biggest,
best fleet in the world and now all of a sudden you're the biggest, best fleet in the world. >> the thing about that, though, the u-boats aren't going to be used so much to strike against british sea power and naval assets. not in a strictest sense. they are not going after the grand fleet. they are going after the merchant ships. but -- if you get britain as a nation to surrender, the fleet -- >> the fleet doesn't matter anymore. >> and the fleet is a strength and it's a liability. and -- you know what i'm talking about? why is the grand fleet a liability, as well? >> because they have to put resources towards it. >> specifically what? >> steel. >> beyond steel. >> people. >> also oil. >> what's effective -- what's the most effective means for
the navy? in terms of technology, what's the most effective technology for combating these u-boats? >> the big destroyers. >> if you pull destroyers to protect the fleet, you can't protect the convoys with the same destroyers. >> the fleet is -- i mean, this is the instrument of -- this is what's getting the job done in the north sea. this keeps the clamps on them. but if you remove the destroyers, now your fleet is vulnerable. and so it's a tough situation. yeah, they've invested more in their navy. they have the world's greatest navy. but you still don't have all of the assets that you need to do everything that you want. and so that's one of the reasons why the u.s. entry into this war, why it's going to be so important, one of the reasons i want to bring sims into this picture. orthodox thinking is, big
ships, good. the traditional path. if you're a naval officer, the first couple of guys that we read about in world war i are fleet commanders and that's what really excites us. you know, sims isn't going to be the guy who, you know, spends his time and energy commanding ships to destroy u- boats. he passes that up. but at least he has a pretty solid side picture when it comes to what the strategic situation calls for. and so with the u.s. entry into the war, it's a pretty big deal, right? we have destroyers. we are going to send battleships, we're going to send a squadron of battleships to the grand fleet. but, the grand fleet, you know, there's not going to be a second battle of jutland. the germans are going to threaten, but nothing ever really materializes. you don't have a 1916 or 1917
version of the battle of --. they have accomplished their objective. but, you still have this threat. sims is an interesting character and as long as we're emphasizing leadership throughout this course, a little bit different, the level of war that he's dealing with is different than what we've seen with these other fellows, maybe with the exception of jellicoe, he certainly has -- one would assume from previous discussions, i think we're in agreement that jellicoe was a sound, strategic thinker. sims, a pretty interesting character. born in canada to american parents, graduates from the american naval academy in 1880. so at the time we are talking about, sort of all that professionalism that starts to develop, the creation of the naval institute and shortly thereafter the creation of the naval war college under the leadership of steven b. luce.
our navy, in terms of encouraging thinking, you know, in terms of developing agile minds is kind of ahead of the game. and sims is certainly one of these guys who benefits from this or at least fits in to this environment. he would go on at the time that the war begins, he's actually serving as president of the naval war college. he is sent over to europe and eventually becomes head of what is u.s. naval forces in europe. and that brings us back to this whole thing. the destroyers are kind of important, but if we think of the united states just in general, in the broadest sense, what's the most important thing we can do for our allies? >> produce. produce stuff. or is that -- >> we're actually going to be
reliant on foreign equipment. >> okay. >> foreign tanks, foreign aircraft. but -- and again, this goes back to -- it's in the article that i sent you dealing with sims. but, if you go back to history 100, how are the allies doing in 1917? what's that? >> stalemate, still. >> not well. >> why are you saying not well? >> the british and french can't really get any farther on the western front and russia's starting to kind of deteriorate, both in their government and their forces on the eastern front. >> yeah. the russians are going to go through two revolutions in 1917. the october revolution is going to kill it. so the germans are successful. the strategic shift to the eastern front, they are successful. but what's going on -- if we look at the allied forces
fighting on the western front, how are they doing? are they taking advantage of the germans and their shift to the east? >> no. at this point, the lines have been established and they are not moving anywhere at this point. >> and when they do try, do you remember the nivelle offensive? what does the nivelle offensive run into? he's the commander of the french -- big hero and comes up and gets the choice field command and he's going to lead them, you know, in a big offensive in 1917. what does he run in to? anybody remember from 100? >> gas? >> no. >> artillery? >> do you guys remember the elastic defense? anybody remember the elastic defense? >> it's been a long time.
>> basically just kind of an evolution of the idea of defense in depth. >> bingo. defense in depth. you're not going to commit everything to protecting the front lines. you sort of put up the minimum, in terms of resistance, up front and set up sort of a massive kill zone farther back. and this is what nivelle runs in to, or his soldiers. i don't think he was leading any charges. but the effects of 1917 on the french, disastrous. the germans are on the offensive and the effects are disastrous. they use the term "mutiny." it's not as if the soldiers were in charge, but sort of mass disobedience to orders. i remember reading an article that mentioned that. that's a great term. mass disobedience to orders. you want an offensive, go ahead, right behind you, 100% of the way. right behind you and not moving
anywhere. if you look at it as far as getting into this war, you're looking at the french. i mean, they are suffering, man. they are just about out of this thing. if you're the germans and you're looking at it, maybe things aren't so bad. you still have these problems in terms of resources, but russia's not going to be a problem going forward. the french are demoralized. and the effects of the submarine campaign against the british, you know, they are producing some solid effects. i can reference the numbers in that article that went out there. the germans are having some real success. jellicoe says, hey, man, we're about to break. we need more stuff and these submarines are keeping us from getting them. but -- and i'm not trying to paint the picture, it's a sea power class. the most important thing that the united states can do, what
do you think the most important contribution that the united states can make is? >> open the seas back up. >> what does that mean? >> destroyers. >> open the seas back up for the british. >> protect the convoys? >> in particular, what's going to be the most precious thing? where does this war have to be decided ultimately? >> on the ground. >> so what do you need? >> people. >> troops. >> right, people. that's sort of a long way to getting to where you are, peyton march is another unsung hero of world war i, because march is the guy who is going to organize the draft. you're about an army of -- the united states army before world war i is less than 200,000 people. by the time the armistice comes about there are 2 million soldiers, u.s. soldiers in europe with another 2 million
getting ready to go. we go from zero to 4 million. that's peyton c. march. he didn't make it into any of the readings. he's somebody we should keep in mind. that's a pretty substantial task. my old boss, when i was teaching at west point, wrote a book called "pure victory," a great, great study talking about the french in the first world war. i think i referenced this in that article that you were looking at. but the fact that -- as long as you can get those troops there, the french are now seeing all of these healthy american soldiers. first a trickle and then a flood of healthy, you know, well-equipped -- they don't look like they are battle-worn, that's for sure. sort of big, american kids coming over who are just full of enthusiasm.
they haven't been broken down by three years of fighting. that's huge. that's huge. because it's -- you know, this has become the biggest military mistake that anybody could think of. i mean, if you're the germans, you think that you're going to be done with france in a month and a half. and now you have millions of casualties. >> at the same time, too, while america is coming in, their alliance with austria, hungary and turkey isn't really helping them at this point. >> they are doing the heavy lifting. this is a tough thing. if we look at the american contribution, not only so much -- people here could argue over this but it's not so much that we're going to produce these key victories as it is we're going to be there to, you know, bolster the morale of our
allies. but, also, if you're the germans and you've got these hundreds of thousands and millions of americans showing up, it helps to convince you that, you know what, we miscalculated. that's a big deal. so -- but in order to do that, in order to make that effect felt, you've got to get those guys from the united states over to france. and that's -- initially, it looks like it's a dangerous proposition. sims is going to be important in all of this because he recognizes the value of this -- you know, of this technology, the u-boat and the value of destroyers to combat these things and that's something that the united states has. it's kind of an interesting -- an interesting contrast. we think about pershing and using sims as the measure and
sims and his memoir -- both write pulitzer prize memoirs after the war, or at least their names were attached to it. i don't know if they had any assistance in the writing. but sims in his memoir, "the victory at sea," equates his role of being that with persia. anybody remember anything about the way persianing behaves? is pershing a big fan of his european allies? >> no. >> does he have confidence in them? >> he's a huge believer that his troops are better because of where they come from. >> he does have confidence and, yeah, american troops are going to win -- which of all of the notions that he has, that might be the one that sort of has the strongest foundation because, again, we're not beaten down by
three years of war. you've got -- americans are fairly enthusiastic. the marines at bellow wood, these guys aren't stopping. they are going to keep going. the first infantry division, the first time that they are -- americans performed fairly well. the third infantry division, to this day, the rock of the marne, the name, the nickname that they go by is associated with their performance in this war. and so there's enthusiasm. there's not necessarily that much ability. marines, the first division, third division, sort of picking on the cream of the crop. but is he fan of amalgamation? what do the europeans want with these american soldiers? >> integrate them into the units that already exist. >> it's like, hey, we've got
all of these experienced officers. why don't you give us your soldiers. >> right. a lot like our framework today where they are expecting us to educate, train, equip and then send them over to a combat and commander and hand them over. >> yeah. if you're pershing, beyond having all of this confidence, though, it's like, what do you think about the europeans based upon anything that you've seen over the last few years? >> i mean, you're watching french soldiers just get sent to their deaths in the thousands by what you view as poor decisions made by these commanders so you're not really -- you don't want the same fate to be suffered by your troops you're sending over. >> think about the battle of -- looking at the british. the year before the americans entered to the war. we come to war april 6th, 1917.
not even a full year. if you went back from june to november of 1916 and looked at the british at the battle of somme, does that fill you with confidence? by all means, let us give you a few hundred thousand american soldiers. so pershing doesn't -- and i'm not a big fan of pershing, either. if we follow his performance, he winds up having to step out of command himself because he's not achieving the results he thought he would. i do think it's somewhat founded he doesn't have that much confidence in the military leadership of the allies. so let's flip that over and take a look at sims. we already talked about sims, when these destroyers come over and that first slide. is sims uptight or reluctant to hand over these assets to british -- i mean, the ships are commanded by americans.
so, at the tactical level of war, you know, it's americans commanding american ships. it's not like we sent ships over there and the british, you know, crewed them out and everything. but bailey is in operational command. bailey's the guy who is more or less directing them from headquarters. so does sims come across as being reluctant to do this? >> no. >> why not? >> he realizes the importance of maintaining unity of command in this larger war effort. he realizes that by sort of investing in the british ideas about sea power and going along with their strategy it's going to end up giving him the best results with his force. >> does he have -- go ahead. >> i was just going to say, he also realizes that he doesn't have the experience that the british do. the british have been fighting the germans for a few years now whereas sims, they are just coming over and -- >> sims is a -- he hasn't --
>> i'm not saying he's inexperienced. i'm just saying in that situation he might. >> let me ask you a question. because this is a sea power class. has anybody surpassed britain in terms of setting a model of excellence? >> no. >> not close. >> in that second slide that we were looking at where we went through those naval engagements, right, cornell, absolutely a disaster for the british. did they recover from it? heck yes. the british lost, cornell lost about 15 plus, 15oo-1600 people. they get more than that back on the germans. they haven't relinquished anything there. it's the germans, you know, preceding that, that's the germans running for cover.
dogger bank. even if you read german commentators and they talk about the victory at jutland, even if they sink or, you know, do more damage to the grand fleet, the grand fleet's big enough to absorb it. so there's nothing that has happened here that would make you think that the british are somehow incapable of waging war at sea. >> in his role as an observer prior to the war, he had no delusions of american capabilities at sea compared to the british. >> that goes back to when he was in paris, he was looking at all of the other news and saying, wow, we are so far behind everybody else. but that's years in advance. to be fair and even this out, before the war began, sims is an anglophile. he actually gets in trouble for
voicing his support, kind of like everything we do here, you know, the views expressed in this lecture are those of the instructor, not the air force academy. he didn't offer a disclaimer. he said that this is -- the united states will stand by britain until the last drop of blood. when the navy got wind of this they were saying, what the are you doing? you're not a diplomat. so he is in a sense inclined to view the british army favorably. but in fairness to sims, there's a reason that you would admire the british. they've got a fairly, you know, long tradition of doing things the right way. in this class, the biggest hiccup is fighting with the dutch. but that's, you know, way back
in the early portion of the age of sail. it hasn't followed us into the 20th century. so, you know, sims, like i said, is willing to trust and it works. because if you think about it, what are some of the weaknesses in terms of submarines at this point? we talked about they are stealthy. but even if you don't have sonar, is it going to be that hard to combat submarines? >> they have to come up for air and refuel more frequently than we think of today. they are not that fast or have that great of range. they are kind of limited in their capability, individually. >> yeah. you don't stay submerged, right? you spend more time under or on the surface of the water? >> surface. >> so if you're thinking about this, destroyers, how disruptive could they be? because if you force the
submarines to go beneath, they can't stay there very long. and, you know, the response -- and this is the other thing, the response to this is, the british have an idea of what needs to happen. a lot of people credit sims with coming up with the idea of convoys and sims in his own memoir say the british have it in mind what they need to do. they just don't have the resources to get the job done. and sims is like, all right, we can help you with the resources here. and the idea of convoys, they have been around forever. remember we talked about admiral anson, going back to the seven years war and beyond, one of his big victories, which i guess would have been the war -- that would have been the war of the austrian succession. but you still -- if you have something that's precious that's traveling at sea, i mean, the idea of convoys, it's not brand new. it's just new in the sense that
the threat, instead of coming from surface raiders or whatever on the surface of the water, now it's coming from under the water. the idea was, why don't we do the same thing? why don't we put combatants around our merchant ships. offer more protection? and initially, i mean, as per the discussion, if you're a merchant sailor, what scares you about convoys? >> they are larger than you just sailing by yourself, so there's this idea that you're somehow easier to find. >> is that true? >> in a limited sense, but -- >> not really. >> -- it's a big ocean. >> why do you say not really? >> because the ocean is so big and 10 or 15 ships is not that much bigger than one ship by itself compared to the entire ocean. >> convoys will get pretty big, but it is a big ocean. our losses -- the losses that are -- where you still suffer
losses in this, as the convoys get in to proximity with the shoreline, when they disperse to send their ships, they come more vulnerable. but the idea that you're going to have great, big losses because you're traveling in convoys, at least in this war, and as we move forward to the next war, the germans are going to have a lot of success initially against the convoys. but at this point, not so much. it really does cut down on the effectiveness of the submarines. the convoys work. destroyers work. cooperation with the british, at least in the war at sea, works. this is a success story. sims, for his part, it's kind of stealing or answering the question in advance but, if we ask -- is sims effective?
generally, yeah. it's -- you know, american soldiers, we get a couple million people to aid our allies and, you know, at a time when things looked as bleak as they had ever looked. it forces the germans to sort of accelerate their war making against us. they come up with some great tactical fixes, it looks like they've solved the problem of trench warfare in 1919. what do they come up with in 1918? >> infiltration tactics. >> so, yeah, wow, that's fantastic. but operationally, they can't support it. but part of that is you're pushing these guys to move as quickly as possible so that they can drive the french and british out of this thing before the united states becomes effective. so march does a great job of filling the ranks and sims does a pretty good job of making sure these people arrive
safely. you know, it's a big contrast -- the british love sims. they want to give him a seat on the admiralty board where the united states are like, no, you can't do that. really bad relations develop or exist between him and daniels, the secretary of the navy and becomes kind of bitter as time goes on but daniels and wilson are not keen on seeing sims take this position. meanwhile, pershing, he emerges as the great american hero, but the allies don't have a lot of respect for him. he hasn't really showed them that, wow, this guy really knows his business. and the big point is, i guess he didn't -- we can argue this another time, but i don't think he really had to show them
that. i'm sure we could get into an argument about how much fight was left in the germans but, you know, the germans -- if you look internally, they are pretty much near collapse. i mean, the next period in german history is the vymar republic. what the heck, some little artsy town off in the countryside. but you couldn't form a government in berlin. it was too risky. the germans are getting ready to fall apart and the united states would play a role in that because how do you stand up against this new entry into the war. so, again, in order to make that impact felt, you needed somebody like sims who was, you know, willing to listen to the allies and call for the application of -- maybe not the resources that the united states wanted to see participating in this war but
the ones that he understood would be the best fit to the problem. all right. so -- and then a last thing -- yeah, i think that was it. a last thing, as far as going forward, as we move out of world war i, if we think about the last few discussions that we've had, how has war at sea changed? if you're a group of planners and this war is coming to an end, what are the things that you want to see in your navy? what are the competencies that you're going to work on developing? >> becoming more unconventional by traditional naval standards, like submarines are more involved, airplanes are just starting to get involved at the end of world war i, so they want to start developing those.
>> you're becoming -- you're looking at sailors being more proficient with their sailing capabilities and being more technical experts as far as like you have a lot more technology on the seas and a lot more things that work than just sails. not just sails, but steam engines. >> but that's been coming for half a century. >> right. >> anything else? >> you can't just rely on the power of a juggernaut. you have to be more diverse in your naval capabilities because of the emergence of submarines. >> spread out those really, really strong commanders. because we talked about how, like, back when nelson was there, like if you were the best, that was shown by the type of ship that you commanded, which if you command
a line, you made it. but now, kind of like what he was saying, all of these different parts are starting to kind of play, like anyone can really affect anyone else. you want to diversify to all of those commanders. >> the logistics at sea have changed because they are shifting to fuel-powered ships. if i'm going across the globe, i have to worry about fuel now, and supplying that fleet with fuel from either my country or another country in the area. >> that was probably a bigger problem when you had coal- powered ships. and i can see where you guys are developing these ideas but let me throw this back back to
you. what are the biggest naval engagements of this war? jutland. does jutland do anything to change your value system in terms of what are the best assignments? keep in mind we talk about simms and submarines and understanding the technology is changing the face of naval warfare. we didn't even talk about aircraft. aircraft are going to, in a limited sense, involve themselves in just about the same sorts of roles that we will see in the next war. but there's not going to be a head long rush to abandon tradition. so if we think about this you get a glimpse of the future but nobody or there aren't so many people. simms is an interesting character because simms is willing to adapt.
and he becomes, you know, sort of a supporter, if you will, of naval aviation, maybe not the most popular thing early in its infancy. he is willing to accept that technology will drive a lot of change. there aren't so many people out there that are. >> so, you are saying that going into world war ii we still have the idea that a decisive battle will give you command of the seas? we still carry that? >> largely. we think about it because we will discuss this the next time out. if we look at like german, you know, german building, ship building during -- it's a brief period of time. instead of falling back on experience of submarines in world war ii, germans rush to build major surface combatants. there's still this thought that you know sort of pervasive that
to amount to something you have to be a captain at sea in the strongest ship that you can find. submarines aren't going to be the biggest threat that the germans offer. it will be a real problem. the same thing in the pacific. nothing will sink more tonnage than submarines for the americans. that is not even a threat. at the beginning of the war it is not working so well, and the japanese don't really send a lot of resources to deal with the submarine threat. we'll take a look. this is kind of a problem. this is a good place to leave off, what is at the back of your mind and what is at the fore of your mind in terms of what makes a navy great as we move on. people are going to have to make a lot of hard choices because there is not a lot of money to go around. i think that is about it for time. we'll catch you guys on monday.
:wednesday american history tv in primetime features programs on african americans and world war i. historians reflect on the discrimination black soldiers faced during and after the war, as well as racial violence and killings that persisted on the homefront despite their military service. african americans in world war i on american history tv starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. c-span washington journal, live every day with policies and issues that affect you. coming up this wednesday morning we will open the phone lines all morning and take your
social media comments on the 2018 campaign election results across the nation. be sure to watch us live starting at 7:00 a.m. eastern. during the discussion. i had thought about forgotten presidents before i began the book. it occurred to me that there might be something all these presidents had in common. that they were not forgotten, but that they were significant in some way. >> university of carolina constitutional law professional -- professor, gerhart talks about #. >> i think that bill clinton did a lot to merit his own impeachment. i think that he knew members of congress were looking for him to make mistakes. and then when he made those mistakes, and later testified under oath in a way that was false, for which he was later held in contempt of court